Nobody Tell McKinsey
This year’s annual research report by Accenture, “Technology Vision 2017,” focused on highlighting a number of technology trends with one common and somewhat ironic nexus point: humans.
The specific impact of technology on how enterprises deploy the right people against the right tasks is far-reaching and transformational. The disassembling of an enterprise from a staid monolith of jobs to a mosaic of projects and activities fulfilled on demand, is very real. Online talent marketplaces are not novel ideas; indeed, skill-based platforms like Upwork and OnForce have been around for several years. However, what is novel, as the Accenture report underscores, is that enterprises have evolved beyond just engaging for skills. In the report, Gigster CEO, Roger Dickey says, “Complex knowledge work services…are the next frontier for the gig economy.” This statement makes it easy to understand why forward-thinking enterprises are blazing the “next frontier” enthusiastically. Knowledge talent—lawyers, accountants and business consultants—are having a disproportionate impact on their business and many times are the architects of growth and profitability plans at companies.
Although this has been true since the dawn of the “well-heeled consulting firm” more than 130 years ago, today technology is playing a disruptive role in three main ways:
Finding, vetting, and engaging business talent for important projects—a process that until now has taken inordinate amounts of time and effort (and, often, expensive lunches and golf rounds) can now be done with a laptop and a few clicks of a button.
Company stakeholders that normally manage cumbersome RFP and competitive bid programs at their business, can now use a technology platform designed specifically to source the right expertise from the best external knowledge resources. No longer do executives need to fall back on the same people and firms they have “always used” simply because the thought of running a robust RFP process deters them.
Technology has also changed the who on the talent side. Collaboration and communication tools, combined with platforms that make it easy to find the right kind of projects at the right kind of customer, have made it more efficient—and more lucrative—for bright business brains to work independently. The impact for companies? A globally-disbursed pool of knowledge talent, never before accessible for their projects.
Accenture is right: the workplace is evolving into a marketplace. Many companies have been on to this trend for a while, plugging talent gaps with specific skills needed for tasks. Only time will tell how revolutionary technology in this space will be. Major progress will likely be led by companies like those early participants in the gig economy that Accenture highlights, Proctor & Gamble, Automattic, and others, that stand to gain the most from the disruption technology is driving in the knowledge economy. And as for everyone else, it’s time to get moving.